H.E.R.O. | The Only Asian SMID-Cap Tech-Focused Fund To Discover & Invest in Innovators of Tomorrow, Today
H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund is the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. H.E.R.O. stands for “Honorable. Exponential. Resilient. Organization.” and is operationalized into a unique, systematic 4-step investment process to identify the winners.
The investment objective seeks to capture long-term investment returns created by disruptive forces and innovation by focusing on high-quality listed equities in the Asia-Pacific region that ride on and benefit from them.
Through our cross-sector and in-depth fundamental research process, the Fund aim to provide access to companies whom we believe are run by high-integrity, honorable and far-sighted owner-operators with a higher sense of purpose in solving High-Value Problems for their target customers and society, and have unique, scalable and wide-moat business models with sustainable competitive advantages and innovative products, services, and processes to create, expand and service their total addressable market, including the resiliency and balance sheet strength to maintain or grow profitability, pricing power and market positions through up/downturns in the economy.
NOTE: The HERO Innovators Fund is now in the pre-launch stage, subject to regulatory approval. All material are for educational purposes.
H.E.R.O., which stands for “Honorable. Exponential. Resilient. Organization.”, is operationalized into a unique, systematic 4-step investment process to identify the winners.
Portfolio manager KB Kee has developed a proprietary forward-looking fact-based accounting fraud detection system and was invited to present to Singapore’s top financial regulator MAS.
BrightTALK Webinar Presentation (12 July 2018) | Finding Value In Asia: Discovering Tech Innovators In An Exponential World
Thank you so much to everyone who had participated in our presentation at the BrightTALK webinar "Finding Value in Asia: Discovering Tech Innovators in an Exponential World" on 12 July.
We had received positive feedback from the participants, including our Catapult analytical framework to complement and rejuvenate the economic moat analysis to view the value creation process afresh and continually discover innovators creating, enabling and capturing new demand (vs exploiting existing demand) with exponential non-linear growth potential and value creation. The Catapult exponential projectile of the 4Cs are systematic observations and leading-indicator questions you can ask to analyze and assess the business models of exponential innovators. We are encouraged to persevere in our efforts to build a warm community of resilience, learning and exponential growth where entrepreneurs and investors support and encourage one another to navigate and thrive in this challenging world and we are grateful to have your support.
- For those who have missed the live webinar, this is the weblink to the replay: https://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/1570/328091
- Download the presentation slides: http://www.heroinnovator.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/BrightTALK-HERO_Finding-Value-In-Asia_12-July-2018.pdf.
We look forward to open up a meaningful conversation with you to explore the H.E.R.O.'s journey together.
Backtested Performance of Asian H.E.R.O. Innovators
H.E.R.O. Investment Framework & Process to Identify the Winners
HEAR THE HEART OF THE H.E.R.O. | INSPIRING STORIES FROM H.E.R.O. INNOVATORS OF ASIA
Our curated collection of inspiring entrepreneurial stories of tech leaders in Asia whom we have been monitoring over the past decade in our broader watchlist of over 200 listed Asian tech companies and our focused portfolio of 40 HERO Innovators who reveal their problems and successes behind building the company. We aim to update with refreshing and uplifting new stories weekly.
Masaya Suzuki 鈴木雅哉 of Japan's MonotaRO Co. (TSE: 3064)
“Our logo is like the Momotaro in Japanese folk tale. Like Momotaro, we fight against unfair – the old distribution system." [Momotarō (桃太郎, "Peach Boy") is a popular hero of Japanese folklore and one of the most famous characters in Japan as an ideal model for young kids for his kind-heartedness, bravery, power, and care for his parents.]
“MonotaRO cherishes the environment where almost everyone can solve problems quickly. Create a hypothesis, change and verify.. It is much more fun to work at a company that has a lot of data when thinking about which areas to work on, whether the hypothesis drawn can be executed quickly and verified with speed. The system is made in-house so it's easy to make changes and I think that it is the best environment for people to grow.”
"Database marketing is one of the biggest factors supporting strong performance. Through data mining from the user's purchase history and browsing history and analyzing them, the analysis result is reflected in the search algorithm which enhances the search accuracy so that the product can be presented effectively from the range of over 15 million items. We are also doing effective recommendation such as ‘The person who bought the item A is also likely to buy item B. Analysis results are reflected not only in search algorithms, but also in mail magazine distribution and catalog layout, customer listing to ship, increasing the purchase rate. We are trying to personalize the site by personalizing the behavior of each user and by incorporating it into the program. We build a one-to-one relationship with the customer so that each product desired by the customer is appropriately shown. Because our business is B2B, your first priority is a more precise time than price. You can search for what you want in a short time, you can purchase immediately, and your ‘one stop’ purchase arrives quickly. This allows customers to spend time on their original work. This is the reason why we are supported by over 2.8 million customers. "
Ryusei Ono 大野龍隆 of Japan's MISUMI Group (TSE: 9962)
"The history of MISUMI is over half a century since its establishment in 1963. Prior to MISUMI entering the business, there are few standardized parts items to the ultra-precision parts that make up FA manufacturing equipment and molds, and ordering one by one with detailed drawings was commonplace. For manufacturing customers, it is hard to find suppliers with technological capabilities that can make parts first. Furthermore, there were various inefficiencies, such as taking estimates, meeting the specifications depending on the part, long delivery time, and high prices must be prepared. So, we standardized the major parts, looked at the web and paper catalogs, so that customers can order immediately by specifying the model number and dimensions. This process of making orders is called "Make to Order (MTO)" at MISUMI. Parts that can be ordered with MTO boast 80 sextillion items including variations in size. If you look at the catalog, the price and the delivery date are obvious at a glance. You no longer need to do drawings, and you no longer have to negotiate estimates and delivery dates.”
“In order for the manufacturing industry to comply with Industry 4.0, it is essential to standardize parts and further increase the electronic procurement rate. We need suppliers of production indirect materials that can respond to this promptly and the existence of platforms connecting them. However, there are not so many suppliers that can respond globally to these needs. We started EDI trading by digital data exchanges since the 1970s, sold CAD systems dedicated to mold design in the 1980s, and in the 2000s we had built an ordering system using the Internet. We are one of the few companies that has long been involved in the field of handling digital data and continues to innovate in this field constantly. We have a new service ‘meviy’ that can recognize the shape of parts and estimate and place an order based on the customer's 3D CAD data. About half of the machine parts are modeled, that is, standardized. For others, it is necessary to order drawings one by one. However, if you use "meviy" for ordering such parts, customers can easily order parts that are not standardized, eliminating inefficiencies. Thus, we are one of the few indirect production players that can deal with the trend of new manufacturing. For Misumi it is said that the biggest opportunity since its foundation is about to come.”
Shinichi Fujishiro 藤代真一 of Japan's Synchro Food (TSE: 3963)
“Looking at the web services provided by Synchro Food, it is easy to see the compelling convenience provided to our customers. To open and operate a restaurant in the conventional manner, you need to first of all look for a specialized property that is suitable, you need to visit a real estate agent, you then need to find the interior designers, you need to buy kitchen equipment, select ingredients suppliers, find the right people to take on the jobs. Even after the opening of the store, you need to attract customers, do promotion, handle accounting, do attendance management etc, which are all work waiting for you to solve. If you have a website that will provide compelling convenience in supporting them all at once, you will want to jump into it.”
“At that time, I really thought I am challenging what no one else is challenging. Since it is highly likely that the restaurant business will succeed if it can know the information of a good restaurant location before rivals, the property information was highly confidential... when the website is opened, only two to three companies registered the property. The business did not grow at all. It was harder than I thought to ‘earn money’ at the beginning, it felt depressing. There were days when I could not sleep. The challenge itself is courageous and wonderful, and if it fails, the trace will remain, so someone may be able to return it to society. After thinking so, my feelings have become brighter. I felt inspired by the pride that ‘I am contributing to society’. I did not start from the ambition to enlarge the company, I wanted to do something that no one was doing and want to provide new value added to the people involved in the restaurant establishments of the world. When people gather around for me, it is strange and my feelings get brighter."
“In our first year, we cannot reach a profitable level and I ask one of the fellow founders who is my cousin to work for another company. it was painful. Our server had also gone down, compounding the problems. It was a phone call that inspired me in this difficult situation. When the server went down and the web site stopped, we heard our customers tell us: "I am in trouble if there isn’t this service". It reminded me of the original intention of offering new services in the world and I realized again the importance of challenging things that nobody accomplished.”
Manabu Yamaki 山木学 of Japan's ItoKuro (TSE: 6049)
“In the past, it was possible to know the reputation of the cram school in the conversation between housewives, but now as the function of the local community has declined, it is difficult to obtain word of mouth information directly There are plenty of word-of-mouth information on our site, so it is useful from parents and it gets many users."
“We aim for “creation of new value” to provide a value that exceeds expectations by the leveraging of internet. Itokuro is started to focus on education because of my personal experience. As a student, I have limited time to study and my parents are constantly worried. Our value-add is towards parents of students studying in school to provide comparison.”
“The only thing that's important is that you are going to clear the work in front of your eyes daily. No matter how much you set a goal, after all, there is always one step before you, and you can never get over to the goal if you never overcome the wall in front of you.”
“Behind every employees at Itokuro is a thoroughly designed environment where everyone can grow. No matter how good a business plan exists, the company can not grow unless there is a person who can properly grow the business. We are making great efforts to create a mechanism to nurture talented people who have joined us as a new graduate to "grow the business" or "lead the company". Employees who entered as a new graduate have grown to become "business owners" or "management" at a young age. This "system for nurturing excellent talent" made this possible. I believe that is the biggest advantage of Itokuro. By carefully acquiring the viewpoints of managers who support the multiple projects they champion, we can carefully create a foundation for them to become an excellent businessman or manager. Foster young experiences involved in the whole project, receive feedback from experienced business managers and executives, and grow further. I am building up such a system.”
Atsushi Kawata 川田篤 of Japan's oRo (TSE: 3983)
"ZAC has supported numerous growth companies. Growth companies are likely to fall into problems when the internal management system cannot catch up with the growth speed of the company. Many growth companies continue to increase sales by using product strength as a weapon and neglect profit management. For instance, when sudden depression comes, the growth companies do not know what they are making is profitable and what they are losing. We have not been able to grasp the profit of each department or project. That's why we cannot make detailed verifications and improvements when our business performance deteriorates... It is important to build a system in the company that can unify all data such as estimates and invoices, information on customers and business partners, employee's working hours, and so on. Doing so eliminates the time and effort of double entry and improves data accuracy and operational efficiency. Also, in order to maximize profits, it is important to accurately manage ‘operating profit’ for each project. In this case too, you can calculate the operating profit for each project unit, employee unit, hour unit from these unified data, and verify it, so you can improve your business more efficiently. Furthermore, by sharing these data results with all employees, it will be possible to switch from a ‘sales focused’ to ‘profit oriented’ organization. ZAC is a system that can realize all these things. Profit management on the basis of opportunities becomes possible in real time. So, we will be able to know the numbers that management wants to know anytime. I do not need to ask the manager every time ‘I did not get any profit last month, but what went wrong?’ And the speed and precision of management decisions will increase and you will be able to create profits systematically. Besides, the operational risk of the administrative department will decline. Unnecessary invoices, uncollected accounts receivable, unpaid accounts payable, and other administrative department errors are drastically reduced. Since the operational efficiency of the management department improves, it also leads to reduction of personnel expenses. In the future, we will continue to improve ZAC and support client continued growth.”
“I think that growing is to stretch out. Therefore, in order to be able to stretch back at ease, we are trying to build a system that can be covered when something happens as an organization. Again, there is growth only when trying ‘what you cannot do’ instead of ‘what had already been done’. But, as it is likely to fail at the same time often, it may become a risk as a company. That is why, by organizing a backup system as an organization, we are trying to create an ‘environment that can experiment challenges with peace’.”
Takuji Iuchi 井内卓嗣 of Japan's AS ONE (TSE: 7476)
“I want to make AS ONE into a ‘good company’, a company that employees can tell from your heart to your most important person, son, daughter, wife, husband, best friend that ‘It is such a nice company, there is no one else!’ It is easy for employees to be feeling that even though the company is stable and there is no big dissatisfaction, there is no sense of fulfilment either. I want employees to feel that their time in the company, where they spend most of their life, is meaningful. To do that, we must first start with creating an atmosphere to express what we want to say freely and vigorously.”
“Our corporate motto is ‘innovation and creation.’ There is a corporate culture of trying new things constantly and differentiating it from other companies, not sticking to previous things. Since our establishment, our customers are people who aim to overcome various problems at the work site, including researchers. They have various specialized needs, such as they want a tool and equipment that can make the experiment in a vacuum state or under zero gravity. Our strength is to not only deliver these products seamlessly and speedily, but also to listen to such voices and respond to the needs. When listening to customer's problems, we developed products ourselves and we also became a manufacturer function. Currently the company’s in-house original products have risen to over 40% of the total sales and they also have a higher gross margin, and it is also a feature that we have both a manufacturer's position in the upstream and a retail position in the downstream.
Recently, we expanded into not only products but also into enriching our consulting functions. For example, instruments and analyzers used for research are required to be accurate. Once a year, it is necessary to perform calibration work to check the accuracy of the machine, but it is a difficult task to put out one by one to the manufacturer. Therefore, we are also developing services such as contracting entire calibration services for the factory and lab customer while they are on holiday. Because the burden on the site is reduced at once, we delighted the busy researchers. In this way, I think that there are more things we can do if we think from the viewpoint of resolving customers' troublesome times.”
Leo Huang 黃欽明 of Taiwan's Chroma ATE (TSEC: 2360)
“The information and communications technology (ICT) industry is rapidly developing and with growing complexity and complications. Precise electronic products and devices are just like humans, when we are sick we need health checks. Chroma ATEs measurement and automated inspection business plays the key role of "intellectual doctors" in the treatment of these incurable diseases and the resolution of pain points for our customers. Chroma ATE's vision is to become the world's first in the field of detection and inspection.”
“Chroma ATE has a close relationship with our customers. To become a first-tier customer’s business partner, we must have an insight into the customer's next-step development and design solutions that will be provided to customers as early as possible before the customer goes into mass production. The customer's research and development of the next generation of products will not only pull in Chroma ATE to grow, but Chroma ATE will also be able to stand on the shoulders of giants to grow.”
“All smart mobile phones with 3D sensing functions are being tested by Chroma ATE’s photonics measurement equipment system. As long as the mobile phone uses VCSEL (vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser), almost 100% will need to use Chroma ATE’s equipment. Chroma ATE will continue to invest in the photonics measurement market.”
“With the advent of the Industry 4.0 era, Chroma ATE can provide customers with one-stop auto purchasing services. In addition to the integration of optical, thermal control and electromechanical integration with big data services, Chroma ATE can provide automated measurement and big data analysis for manufacturers. For example, testing measurement generates a lot of data. Chroma ATE can provide a big data analysis platform to realize a complete Industry 4.0 service. This kind of service also differs from Taiwan's emphasis on a large number of manufacturing OEM business models.”
“With the rise of the clean energy industry, demands have remained strong for electric vehicles, lithium batteries and cloud servers. Revenues for our sophisticated electronic measuring instruments and system products have been steadily growing. The measuring equipment for electric vehicle batteries is a prime example of our efforts. In a 12ppm (production per minute: batteries produced per minute) electric vehicle battery production line, electricity consumption is reduced by 50% which is the equivalent of NT$8 million per year. Many people believe that, compared to gasoline, electricity is an excellent clean energy. However, what is not often mentioned is that during activation batteries go through several 20-hour cycles of charging and discharging. In other words, battery production actually consumes a substantial amount of electrical energy. For this reason, Chroma developed a battery formation system that effectively recycles electrical energy during production.”
Daisuke Sekine 関根大介 of Japan's OpenDoor (TSE: 3926)
“The origin of our company name OpenDoor was always from my strong desire to open the door to continue the challenge, seeking the possibilities of a new field at all times. Do not be afraid of new challenges, continue to contribute to society's richness, joy, and the future with constant innovation. Since our establishment in April 1997, we have steadily expanded our business and steadily continue to grow, but we believe that the root of this is the result of thoroughly looking at the customer's perspective and pursuing quality without compromise. Amongst them, Travelko is the pillar of our business and it is widely used as the largest travel comparison site in Japan, endorsed by the largest number of customers who use it and the largest number of travel-related companies published on the website. We open doors and will respond quickly to customer's needs through the Internet business in a wide range of fields and strive to maximize customer satisfaction. For that purpose, we will continue to challenge the realization of the business as the No.1 from the endorsement of both customers and markets, constantly seeking the possibilities of a new field with a venture spirit and we will continue to challenge ourselves further.”
“We have survived a fierce battle in the travel IT industry which experienced rapid change with many meta-sites competitors such as Venture Public (travel.jp), Kakaku.com, Recruit Group, trivago, Trip Advisor, and Travelko now occupies a solid position in the industry. Our comparative site Travelko has high accuracy and user convenience that other companies cannot follow. For each of our client companies, the attractiveness of Travelko is a big appeal and we have established a relationship of trust as a partner in a Win-Win relationship.”
"Especially because of the richness of products and price competitiveness, Travelko was supported by women from the ages of 20 to 34, and the number of users steadily increased without adding advertising expenses, and we are able to achieve high operating margin at over 28%. If you are at the same price, we are aiming to find the most enjoyable trip, so we post information on the site from the local living guide and information blog about the trip. We will actively disseminate information that you can take a walk even if you go to the city alone and we would like to link with the optional tour and use it for promotion.”
Michikatsu Ochi 越智通勝 & Takatsuga Suzuki 鈴木孝二 of en-Japan (TSE: 4849)
Chairman Ochi: “I quit an apparel maker, a company which I joined as a new graduate for two years, and then I was invited by my elder brother to join a food maker that he runs. My elder brother was very enthusiastic about employee education, so I began to be interested in employee education. And at the age of 29, I switched to a major education consulting company. I was planning to work for the rest of my life at that company, but one night, I had a phone call from my elderly mother who asked me to return home to Ashiya. And at the age of 32, I decided to return to Ashiya, and I started the Nippon Brain Center in Kansai. As a representative of Recruit Co’s advertisements, Nippon Brain Center became the No. 1 Kansai dealer in its 10 years of establishment and grew to 120 employees and sales exceeded 3 billion yen. And, in anticipation of the coming of the Internet, in 1995 we set up the Digital Media Division in the company and started a recruitment job information service using the net. en · Japan was founded in January 2000 to make its division independent.”
Chairman Ochi: “I would like to continue to grow as a company with social justice and identity. We are not simply about making money, we are doing business with social justice. I have not grown the company to such a size and scale in sales, profit and employee size by motivating people with profits, but I purely managed this with social justice.”
Chairman Ochi: “Since our founding in 2000, En · Japan has been committed to the mission of “success after joining the company." We do not merely manage the moments of recruitment and recruitment as goals, but also operate businesses aimed at enhancing "employee contribution to corporate performance“. For that purpose, we have worked on the planning and development of services, with a focus on businesses that will truly benefit job seekers and companies. By linking services in the three areas of adoption of optimal human resources, effective education, and highly satisfying evaluation, we will realize the success of human resources and the improvement of corporate performance. We have named this unique method "3E method“. Now is the time when the idea of "success after joining" is lived. With our unique service, we will contribute to creating a society where business people can demonstrate higher performance.”
CEO Suzuki: “I was born and raised in a small island in Ehime prefecture, an area for the shipbuilding industry. In the 1980s many people who worked in the shipyard lost their jobs and wander the streets due to a serious shipbuilding depression. My father also got restructured. Because I saw such a sight at the time of my middle school and high school, the feeling that work is important is always at the back of my mind. I felt there is social significance in the human resources business and thought about pursuing it as my profession. I joined the Nippon Brain Center, the predecessor of En Japan, after graduating from the Doshisha University School of Commerce in 1995. Chairman Ochi talked about the human resource strategy of each industry as a lecturer, based on our philosophy of human growth. I got hired by the sense of excitement that Chairman Ochi inspired whom I met in the interview and decided to join the company.”
CEO Suzuki: “Our starting point is to thoroughly devote ourselves to job seekers and to communicate the appeal of companies from an objective standpoint. By doing so, we pleased job seekers and the companies by reducing mismatches, and we provide thorough services that help in the success after joining of the workers for companies.”
Dr. Wang Kuang-Hsia 汪光夏 of Taiwan's Machvision (GTSM: 3563)
“Success comes from building a happy enterprise. Prayers give me a good image telling me to build a happy company.” [Wang is a devout Christian] I hope my employees will be able to take care of their families. If you sell your liver all day long, you can't take care of the family."
“I used to be a teaching professor. [Wang holds a double master degree in electrical engineering and industrial engineering, and a Ph.D. at the famous University of Pennsylvania. Wang has not only published more than 40 academic papers in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) journals, but also has more than 40 individual invention patents.] Back then, I observed that although Taiwan has already taken the lead in the electronics industry, foreign companies that include Orbotech, Camtek, Cognex, KLA-Tencor and Keyence Japan dominate the automated optical inspection (AOI) instrument market that is crucial for the electronics industry. In 1997, I published a paper explaining that the era of AOI equipment and machine vision system is approaching. The combination of four key technologies is the key, namely optical acquisition systems, image processing, precision mechanics, and electro-optics and motion control. These four items are simple to say, but they need to be integrated. Optical inspection is actually most commonly used in four major industries: semiconductors, packaging, PCBs, and SMT. I decided to start a business focusing on the PCB where local brands had poor reliability. We quickly gained praise in the industry with higher cost performance and reliability. I first introduced a new generation of products to reduce testing time by a factor of 7, which cuts manpower costs and saves space by seven times. In the past, manufacturing clients might increase the number of machines or double the speed. However, this innovative technology combined many new applications, including achieving the detection effect while the product is still in the process of moving, which requires a combination of multiple technologies. Why Machvision can have so many technologies is because of the past experience and knowledge accumulated from our different customer requirements which bear fruit in this new product. Therefore, international companies will not only fail to catch up, but will also abandon the PCB field. We went on to dominate the PCB field. With our optical, electronic control and software technologies, we can provide customers with one-stop solution integration services."
“We have incorporated ‘sports marketing’ to forge closer relationship between the company and our customers, and it brings positive energy to the operation. For example, when we visit customers in mainland China, it is natural to create a common topic without drinking alcohol. It is no longer just asking the other party to order or talk about the status of the machine. The customer usually initiates with a humorous opening, saying things such as ‘There is no problem with the order and machine. The problem is that we are unable to register for the badminton match’, or ‘You and your staff are very good at badminton but we will win next time’ and so on. We also employ outstanding sports talents and train them to become our sales consultants and they perform well at work to really score for the company."
Masaki Hojo 北條正樹 of Japan's Daifuku (TSE: 6383)
“Special technology is required because the factory or automated logistic warehouse are required to operate for 24 hours in order to raise the occupancy rate. The quality of material handling also greatly contributes to the yield rate of the final product. Our company visualizes factory operation status on a monitor, and monitors where trouble occurred and aims to raise the occupancy rate to the maximum. These technologies have been accepted and adopted by factories in the world's leading semiconductor and electronics companies, data centers, automobile manufacturing, and so on, as the mainstream system so far.”
“Amazon is actively investing and we’re supplying machines that are profitable. In Japan, retailers like Nitori Holdings Co., which sells furniture, is making big investments to set up new distribution centers for operational efficiency. In China, companies like Alibaba and Tencent are investing. South Korea will catch on, taking cues from Japan, and while it will take time for India’s e-commerce market to develop, it’ll be a big market once it does.”
“We have to be able to come up with various suggestions for clients. It’s not simply going to be about hardware or software but about providing a high value-added system equipped with cutting-edge technology. Otherwise, we can’t be a real champion. Health care, biotechnology and agriculture are among the industries Daifuku could tap. We’re going to try and see if a type of power-supply machines used in chip factories could be put to use in the biotechnology industry.”
Takateru Kawano 河野貴輝 of Japan's TKP Corp (TSE: 3479)
“In 2005, TKP founded as a pioneer of the B2B sharing economy. TKP stands for Total Kukan Produce, borrowing and leasing idle real estate from a real estate owner, renewing it as a conference room and offering it reasonably to users. Since then, we have built up our own nationwide network, and we now provide corporate conference and banquet room spaces in five quality grades. We directly managed the total number of 1,919 conference rooms in Japan, with operations in five cities around the world, for over 24,000 companies and more than half of listed companies in Japan are TKP users and the repeat ratio is around 85%. Expanding beyond our roots in renting conference rooms, in recent years we have also built up a business of renovating hotel banquet halls. Under the TKP Garden City brand, we provide hotel- quality conference rooms and banquet halls. We also respond to sophisticated customer needs in the food and beverage industry, and offer various optional services. As many conference-goers also require accommodation, we have also begun operating lodging facilities near our conference rooms in major metropolitan areas. With office prices trending upward in recent years, fewer companies are setting aside large conference areas within their own office spaces. Conversely, the importance of having spaces to foster interpersonal communications is growing. We aim to resolve this dilemma. From our start in providing rental conference rooms for corporate customers, we regenerate and add value to idle property. As a “company that renovates and redistributes space”, we contribute to society by offering comfortable places, spaces and times.”
“If a kite gets on the flow of the world economy, it will rise. For a business, if the yarn is short, it does not rise high. If you ride a good wind, the kite may easily climb high, but if it gets too high, the thread may break, and the kite itself may break by wind pressure. I would like to make the company bigger. However, when the company got bigger, I think that it is important that the ownership mentality is clear. The super business is a company that grows great while holding the soul of entrepreneurship. I cannot do it alone to thicken the kite's thread, the soul of a venture. Each employee must have a ‘soul of an entrepreneur’, and it is necessary to fully enjoy the work he or she desires. Let's raise a big kite, fly high together!”
"I was influenced to go into commerce by my grandfather who was doing business in Beppu and ran a sporting goods store by the ocean. I helped him all the time during the summer vacation, so I started to like business. While I was a child, I always thought that there are few goods and customers do not come at all. I took the initiative to attract customers, organizing a competition and giving away prizes such as gloves for first prize and so on. When my grandmother got back, she was very angry with me, and I could not understand why. My grandfather explained to me that he was collecting orders from organizations using catalog sales and all the items listed in the catalog can be purchased at a discount. Since the store is a showroom, it is only necessary to place items that are limited, and there is no need for visitors. It's a wonderful business model that there is no inventory risk in order sales. I was surprised because I had never thought about such a thing. From that time, my grandfather had been ahead of the era, about three steps, rather than half a step.”
Dr. Noriyuki Mifuni 三船法行 of Japan's TOCALO (TSE: 3433)
“TOCALO is the low-profile company behind the success of Tokyo Electron’s global leadership in dry etching and photoresist processing (ashing) semiconductor production equipment (SPE) to produce insulating film, which is critical for the mass production of 3D NAND flash memory. Previously cyclical semiconductor investment now involves more than PCs and smartphones with a greater number of end markets driving demand for semiconductor for cloud servers used in data center, IoT (Internet of things), big data, electronification of smart cars, artificial intelligence, creating a shortage of 3D NAND flash memory chips. Special equipment needed for producing 3D NAND flash memory is in especially short supply, leading chipmakers to scramble for machinery from Tokyo Electron. Tokyo Electron also holds a near-monopoly on equipment for dry etching circuit patterns onto silicon wafers. In manufacturing processes for 3D NAND flash memory devices, four or five additional etching machines are required for each new layer. 64 layers, for example, adds up to 300 etching machines. In semiconductor production equipment, TOCALO’s unique high performance coating contributes to substantial productivity improvement and has earned high praise from customers. In the semiconductor etching equipment, TOCALO has developed a new high-performance ceramic-based thermal spraying coating to protect the base material from the etching gas, improve the durability of the chamber and electrostatic absorption mechanism of the electrostatic chuck for holding and fixing the wafer in the plasma etching equipment.”
"Electricity becomes a problem in power regenerative braking and since sparks can be completely prevented, all shinkansen bullet trains and high-speed trains have insulated coating for bearings to the drive motor for wear-resistance, extending lifetime usage and keeping maintenance and replacement costs low.TOCALO’s thermal spray coating for insulated bearings is used for all driving motors of the domestic Shinkansen. Similar application is in bearings for wind power generator."
“It is essential for young people to have flexible thinking ability and action power that is not afraid of failure. We want those who are not satisfied with the current situation and are challenging themselves towards achieving further height! I would like to encourage everyone who join TOCALO or any other company from now to feel pleasure in supporting the customers behind the scenes and contributing to society. Let's create a future of TOCALO together!”
Takahiro Arimoto 有本隆浩 of Matching Service Japan (TSE: 6539)
“Founded in 1990 as a pioneer of online recruitment specialized in administrative department and accounting & legal fields, we have since established our own infrastructure network and have become a mentor of qualified certified public accountants, tax accountants, lawyers. We have been a market leader in the industry specializing in experienced people in the management department of the company (accounting, financial affairs, personnel affairs, general affairs, legal affairs, business planning). In the future, we will establish the online communication platform Manegy that will be useful every day in the relevant areas. Guided by the philosophy of ‘matching people and information’ to create better encounters between companies and people, the Company continues to contribute to society with our online recruitment and communication portal site and our know-how of high precision matching cultivated through specialized type recruitment business.”
“Manegy started with the idea of gathering job seekers. Traditionally, we started to use mass marketing such as the method of advertising to specialized magazines subscribed to by senior professionals and the administrative departments in order to bring widespread recognition of our services to the public. But the acquisition cost per job applicant will rise. I thought of providing services and information that are useful not only at the time of change in jobs but also during their day-to-day operations to the 3.5 million personnel in the mid-career and enterprise management department nationwide, such as Q&As and legislation revision etc. Because senior professional personnel provide the information, the information is more accurate, and they become more visible as experts to potential employers. Employers can conduct their own advertisement by writing information to the site, which can lead to talent acquisition. With daily contact with our services, It is a strategy to gather and collect talented people into a platform. It is possible to use our company's personnel introduction service smoothly at the time of changing jobs, and to effectively increase registrants of the recruitment business. This is the communication platform Manegy. This site brings in the view of the world. For example, the user creates an information flow of evaluating and rating the offices of accountants and lawyers, such as what kind of strength each office has. We believe that the latent network effects can develop into a big business and monetized in various places. When the number of registrants expands to about 1 million people in a few years, it is expected that a huge business opportunity will come by grasping and analyzing data characteristics of individual registrants. In addition, in the long term, Manegy's expertise cultivated in Japan is expected to expand well in major developed countries, leading to the development of human resources business overseas.”
“I think that ‘value determination’ is the essence of management. We will fully utilize the network and if you can make the best possible value within the range that the customer thinks is reasonable, high profitability and high added value can be generated for everyone. It was the family environment when I was a child that fostered the sense of ‘value determination’. I am grateful to my parents for learning the sense of business. By training from a young age, I will instantly know where I can sell at what price. For our company, we recognize ‘change is a business opportunity", so we do not care that the economy is clear or bad. Even if it gets worse, there is always an opportunity.”
“If you aim to be the best, you need to do something different from others. Choosing to do something different from others requires courage and is quite difficult. However, if you persist with your own evolution, you can create a dominant position. Profits as a first-mover pioneer were born rapidly, and we took the overwhelming top position. Anyone can become ‘the best’. For that, it is important to open up our senses, sensitivity and sensibility. People who cannot feel anything do not notice opportunities even if they come. So, if you do not become a person of sensitivity and sensibility, there is no success. If you think too much, you may get scared and your feet will stop. I hope young people also have dreams and hopes, believe in themselves, build an antenna of sensibility and sensitivity all over the world, laugh a lot and cry a lot, and create innovation. You can fail. Failure is experience. If you do not act, you cannot even gain the experience of failure. If you continue to challenge, the opportunity to succeed will increase more and more. Please become a person who dare to dream.”
Natsuki Goto 後藤夏樹 of Japan's SMS (TSE: 2175)
“SMS sets the corporate philosophy of ‘to create value and contribute to society by providing an information infrastructure suitable for an aging’. We create valuable services for many social problems caused by rapid aging and contribute to problem solving. SMS stands in the place of ‘aged society × information’, and I believe that this itself is one of the very few growth areas in future Japan, especially where rapid aging progresses among developed countries, the needs for services and products that have not existed in the past have continued to expand. The information related to the aged society is often highly specialized, such as nursing care and medical care, and the need to easily obtain correct information is growing, and there are enormous business opportunities.”
“From the beginning of our foundation, we are in business with a strong will to make SMS to be a company that will last for 100 years. As long as SMS continues its business as an ‘information infrastructure in an aging society’, we will be necessary for society in the decades to come. The identity and organization knowledge of SMS is necessary to imprint and continue on the business creation method of the SMS flow and connect the 100 years of baton with promising management talent who can absorb this experiential value in a straightforward manner.”
“Our fundamental strategy is to create a thriving community of members in the area of nursing care, medical care, healthcare and elderly with daily use of the services to create and expand businesses. We also place emphasis on creating synergetic effects between our services. For example, members of Care Manager.com, an online community which boasts membership of 56% of the total number of care managers (85k/150k) who answer questions regarding nursing care that are posted in Anshin Kaigo, an online community for families engaged in nursing care. The Q&A site on health, Narukara, enables posting health-related questions or concerns which are answered by such professionals as doctors, nurses, pharmacists, nutritionists and care managers who are members of our community. For the community membership of nurses (610k/1600k) and registered nutritionists (32k/60k), we have 60% share; 13% share for home-visit nursing care operators (15k/121k), 5% share for pharmacists (19k/280k). For the recruiting agent and ad market, we have 30% share for nursing care professionals (580k/1850k), 20% share for PT/OT/ST professionals, 50% share for large-sized nursing care operators, 10% share for clinics (9.5k/100k), 65% share for hospitals (5.4k/8.5k), 40% share for nurses and 20% share for student nurses (15k/75k).”
“I am strongly interested in human resources who are more sensitive to the essence, rather than human resources who have different experiences from others. I think that experiences such as entrepreneurial experience and existence of overseas living or studying are superficial stories. What I ask is what they have learned and how they changed themselves. Regarding entrepreneurship experience, just as investment banks, trading companies and consulting firms gained popularity in the past, we do not feel an appeal to those who are just doing entrepreneurship as a kind of fashion. There are great possibilities for those who clarify their position and purpose in life and keep thinking with their own minds and are moving to something somehow. There is a potential for them to do well wherever they go. I would like to work with these people, and I would like to motivate them to be entrepreneurial managers in projects that become part of the ‘information infrastructure of aging society’ for SMS.”
Shuhei Morofuji 諸藤周平 of Japan's SMS (TSE: 2175)
“The basic strategy is to divide the information infrastructure into ‘daily’ and ‘extraordinary’ and combine them. It is extraordinary services like change job, get married, or buy a car, that users want to pay money for use of the information infrastructure. As the impact on the future life is huge or there is a movement of a large amount of money, we want to obtain the correct information even if we pay money, and the information infrastructure tends to be an easier to business. Therefore, we engage our customers with our daily service and monetize by having them move to dedicated non-routine services when in trouble.”
“I hope for every staff to do rewarding work and to live a life full of personal flourishing, and we have prepared some unique measures. With our ‘New Business Proposal System’, anyone can propose a new business plan and promote it at the ‘Innovation Office’ which specialized in new business development. As long as the business is part of the comprehensive information infrastructure that can contribute to the aging society, the staff who raised the new business proposal can operate the business as the person responsible for the project. There is a ‘profit return system’ that returns approximately 30% of company profits to all employees.”
“As I was exploring business opportunities in the elderly care business, I thought that a online matching company for land information specializing in elderly housing and online recruitment of talent to help them find work given the shortage of human resources. I decided to investigate the business of land information and recruitment business and found out that online recruitment business of human resources is better. The land information is one hundred million yen and the return is also large, the risk is also high, and after one transaction, you have to do other projects. Meanwhile, recruitment has many transactions even though it is low in return per transaction. When we opened for business, the needs were strong, so we were able to get more and more contracts. I started to expand the business in the adjacent areas from the fear of competition by rivals. We started to introduce the care manager in the nursing care industry and started to increase new services every three months. As we expanded our business, there were also companies in the nursing care industry that were funded from venture capital to create a large-scale system rapidly. These companies did not work. Because of its complexity, the market that is initially emerging is too small, and there is no room for large companies to enter while securing profits. Also, such a market will not scale even if trying a system approach, and it cannot penetrate with one product like Uber. Many startups in the world are supposed to grow greatly with one product, and it is like a conventional VC or startup idea when VC invests in such a story. It may be hard to create a business like SMS.”
Susumu Fujita 藤田晋 of Japan's CyberAgent Inc. (TSE: 4751)
“My management style is tolerating most of the time, to endure. About 95% of winning is more about enduring, amongst various things. The remaining 5% is when you make an offense... The work of advancing each piece peacefully without losing sight of the original purpose is perseverance. After listing for 18 years, we have repeatedly made a lot of upfront investment. We have invested in Ameba blogs, smartphone & video advertisements in advance, but thanks to that, we have been able to update our record high profits in existing business and will continue active investment in AbemaTV while the existing business is doing good. To start a new thing, anxiety and disturbance will occur. However, it is the job and mission of management to believe in yourself."
"'If it is not depression, it is not a job', there may be some people who wonder about this catchphrase by Goethe, since ‘if you enjoy your work, life is pleasant’. But it seems to be the case that the work gets bigger when you twist your body to the more depressed one, to think about doing the difficult work. To do that, I must take a postponement of my head and I must feel like bleeding blood. But I have thought that this is the correct attitude toward work. So, if you suffer, the pleasure after doing your work increases proportionally. I think that is the real pleasure of work. What is important is the strength of the heart in adversity. In order to grow, we need a strong heart that does not move even if what people say around me is not positive. It is different from the heat of the heart. The heat ends with a short lived span but strength is not so. It is something that can be trained over time. We also experienced various ups and downs such as the collapse of the Internet bubble, the collapse of the stock price, the major turnaround in the business. I was forced to make a decision each time. I do not think that the decision power is smart or bad, I think whether the mind is strong or weak. For being disturbed by the numbers in front of me or being swept away by the surrounding opinion, my heart is weak. Conversely, if you are strong, you can push through the path you believe is correct."
Norio Shiraishi 白石徳生 of Japan's Benefit One (TSE: 2412)
“’Creating distribution of services.’ This is our company’s vision consistent from the foundation. If Costco is the leader in distributing goods at warehouse stores with the membership system, our company strive to be the innovator in distributing services through a membership Internet mall."
“Our goal is to provide all services to people all over the world at a fixed fee. We are planning to expand overseas as well and offer services such as hair salon, tavern, restaurant, movie theatre, medical service through the Internet. In addition to the outsourcing of benefits and welfare which is the current main business, we are currently developing eight divisions including CRM business for corporate customer service and personal business targeted at individuals. In the future, I would like to expand the business to financial services and to proceed with creating a mechanism for further distribution of services. At the same time, we will expand the number of members, and will also focus on added value such as convenience improvement and ease of comparative review. For example, we are currently preparing a service rating system like Michelin‘s ‘star’ or a word-of-mouth review so that we can select and compare various services such as eating, drinking, medical care, child rearing etc. In addition, we are planning to develop a system of distribution services cultivated in Japan overseas, with a view to global expansion.”
“A personal mantra I care about is ‘Every day effort, reflection on the day.’ Reflecting is an act that you cannot do unless you objectively view yourself. People do not know about myself. Especially when it succeeds or when things are going well. I look back on the events of the day and my actions, reflect on the points I did not reach, and strive for improvement. I think that it is very important to keep moving forward. I think that people with high reflection ability are able to do it. Since I have an optimistic personality, I try to be conscious as a commandment to myself. Because we forget that when we are unconscious. Conversely, it may be my biggest weakness, isn’t it?”
Kei Suzuki 小野尚彦 of Japan's Syuppin (TSE: 3179)
“Everything is a commodity unless it contains 'commitment'. It will be the same for any business, but if you like that product and do not have deep knowledge, you will not be able to go beyond that, but I will beat the limit and barrier if I do it in detail. I realize that commitment and dedication are important properties of entrepreneurs. Commitment brings sticking connection with people. I think that business is an emotion. If you can communicate emotion through business, I think that the possibility of success will increase. As long as there are dreams and hope, we believe we can move forward.”
"We are “Re-value” than re-use. SYUPPIN is a brand new creative business for valuable products. I love my business at SYUPPIN. It has been 30 years for me contemplating to this business. Tracing back to the reason, I think is all because I am in love with those valuable products. I like things that are made with insistence. It is important why we should provide a firm and safe system to protect our customers when they make the decision.”
"This is an environment where you can calm down and concentrate on your work. Everyone in the first place are maniacs who love cameras, so they learn while enjoying themselves. I will not stop when I talk about the camera (laugh). Because the sales staff are human beings who feel attached to "things", they can understand the feelings and actions of customers. We deal with things that are less prone to falling value. There are also reasons to narrow down the merchandise in this way. First of all, each item has a high unit price, it will not take up space. By narrowing the categories, it is possible to speedily enhance the aesthetic eye and product know-how of the sales staff, thereby obtaining high trust from customers. By staying in contact with customers, we can provide high-quality services through synergistic effects of ecommerce and brick-and-mortar retail, such as improving the expertise of staff and making use of the know-how on customers on our EC sites. We specialized in EC and do not incur costs for store development, realizing transaction at reasonable price. We think that it is important not to simply buy cheap and sell at high price, but to properly assess "valuable and valued second hand goods" brought in by customers, and present a reasonable price that customers can agree with.”
Takatani Yasuhisa 高谷康 of Japan's e-Guardian (TSE: 6050)
“e-Guardian is the largest domestic company in monitoring of posts on the internet. We are growing because the internet market is rapidly expanding. Blogs and SNS have become widespread, and accompanying it, troubles related to the Internet have increased. As internet service runs 24 hours a day, 365 days, it is difficult for individual companies to operate and monitor it. I am providing the service of monitoring on behalf of companies that provide blogs and SNS platform infrastructure. We monitor blogs and SNS posting, product reviews at the EC (e-commerce) sites, abusive slander and child pornographic images, illegal drugs or imitations that are being sold at the EC site etc. We analyze texts and images by the system and visually check with humans. The AI (Artificial Intelligence) system to detect and recognize images is jointly developed with the lab of Professor Harada Tatsuya at the University of Tokyo and is introduced for the first time in the industry. The AI image detection system filter images and discriminate harmful images such as child pornography. This is offered as the ROKA solution subscription service and it has a detection rate of 99.5%. Previously, we visually check the images but it was time-consuming and costly, so productivity was a problem.”
"We named the company “e-Guardian" which guided towards the purpose as the ‘guardian god of the Internet’. It was difficult to explain the future business plan, because it was a rare business type at the time, so I cannot present a precedent. So when I explain it to someone outside the company, I say that e-Guardian is a net security company. It was also helpful to have people deepen their understanding by saying the word "Guard All" to the people who use the Internet and the surrounding vendors. I want e-Guardian to become a symbol of security and safety. It is safe to have a Secom mark in the building. In the same way, if e-Guardian is monitoring or had checked on the website, it is a brand that users have confidence.”
"With our recent “Kiducoo AI” technology, you can tag images automatically after extracting text and images, so it is no longer impossible to know people's behavior and profile. For instance, it is possible to derive what the trend is for a specific target, the trends of products used in a specific scene, and use it for collecting marketing data. It is possible to analyze posted images of in-house products to determine similar trends such as people using products, related products in the same photograph, usage scenes, and so on. The three features of this service are as follows: (1) It is possible to identify what the object in the image is and tag it by product name / product name unit, (2) Matching rate improved by 200% compared with conventional image recognition system using AI, (3) Detection rate of specific object from SNS contribution image is 98.36%. By utilizing this service, you can analyze images posted on Instagram, Twitter etc. for marketing, such as recipe recommendation from a photo of a refrigerator. Our image recognition system with a machine-learning system will increase the accuracy of extraction to provide enterprise marketing support and solution.”
“The book that changed me was Kazuo Inamori's ‘To raise the heart, to extend management’. Inamori-san wrote clearly the philosophy of life, what to work for, what to live for."
Mitsuaki Taguchi 田口三昭 of Japan's Bandai Namco (TSE: 7832)
“The mission of the BANDAI NAMCO Group is to provide ‘Dreams, Fun and Inspiration’ through our products and services, and our vision is to become ‘the Leading Innovator in Global Entertainment.’ Our weapon is Japanese IP (intellectual property). Through the IP* axis strategy, which is the greatest strength of the BANDAI NAMCO Group, we leverage characters and other IP to provide the optimal products and services in the optimal business fields at the optimal times. ‘Gundam’ and ‘Dragon Ball’ have the potential ability comparable to Disney works. I think that rolling out those charms to the world is a role. The goal of using Japan's high-quality IP and developing it on a global scale has gradually spread throughout the group. Under the IP axis strategy, we will drive the creation of new IP and regionally oriented strategies by unifying the efforts in each region under the ALL BANDAI NAMCO concept.”
“Gundam started broadcasting in 1979, and celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2019. Why is this being loved for so long? It is my personal opinion, but I think that it will be the world view of the first work ‘One Year War’. The hero Amoro is afraid of being a hero, and if there is something that does not make sense, people will ask ‘why’. I think that it was accepted by fans that they portrayed the inner nature of such a person. Many sequels have been produced so far, but the basic philosophy and idea of Gundam, robot, war, human drama has been entrenched firmly. ’Pretty Cure’ (‘PreCure’) is also the same. Think of the most fresh theme that speaks to the feelings of the girls now. I want you to feel empathy and feel something in the work. The next person absolutely gets bored if you do not do new things. While keeping the basics behind the works of history, we try to use the sense of depth well. There is a fan base and existing users come back because they know goodness. if it is integrated with fans, we will invest, and I think that it is a new appearance to truly appreciate it to build a worldview together.”
Shinichi Tamagami 玉上進一 of Japan's Prestige International (TSE: 4290)
“Our job and management philosophy of the Group is to listen to the inconvenience, troubles and embarrassing things of end users and guide solutions. Since our founding, the Group has always created new services and has continued to grow under this management philosophy. Today, we are developing businesses to solve each problem of customers in various genres such as automobiles, real estate, insurance and guarantee. Regardless of how the times change, we continue our efforts day and night to become the one and only existence that can solve every of these inconvenience, troubles and problems that occur daily for people before anyone else. We aim to grow as a company that can solve social, a group that can provide solutions that are needed by society, trusted by client companies, and appreciated by end users, while constantly keeping in mind social contributions, client companies, shareholders, employees, and regions We aim to become a global company that can prosper. On the other hand, we also listen to the troubles of people working at our company, and we are focusing on creating an environment that makes us feel more comfortable and motivated to work. We will continue to strive to be a company that can help people to grow.”
“I experienced inconvenience when living overseas for over seven years due to differences in language and culture. I hope to be able to receive high quality and warm service even when overseas like in Japan. This became the motivation for establishing the company in October 1986. In the following year, I advanced to New York, and I started a service that corresponds 24 hours in Japanese to inquiries from Japanese who had trouble. After that, I expanded the network to major cities in Asia and Europe and expanded the service content. We also cultivated domestic services and expanded our business.”
Mark Brayan, Dr. Julie and Chris Vonwiller of Australia's Appen (ASX: APX)
“There are three key components in successful machine learning: compute power, algorithms and the right data (and lots of it). In order to learn, software ‘machines’ such as speech engines, search engines, predictors and recommenders, must ingest vast amounts of data to help them find patterns and predict outcomes. The greater the volume and the higher the quality of the volume and the higher the quality of data applied, the better the machine learns and performs. And the data is where Appen comes in. The data that the machine learns from has to be collected, prepared and delivered into the technology. Data truly is the ‘unsung hero of artificial technology.’ The increasing demand for data for machine learning and Appen’s scalable capability for the provision and structuring of high quality data for places us in a very strong position for future growth. We’ve been doing it for 22 years, so we’ve been a major force of improvement in the industry, helping to evolve AI to where it is today. In some cases, we work with our clients to use or ‘decorate’ their data to improve their systems, as is the case with our search engine projects. In other cases, Appen captures and prepares the data for our clients. For example, language and speech data is especially important when you’re training AI to interact with people—and we’ve worked in over 130 countries, in over 180 different languages. We’re really an established expert in the field.”
“Appen’s secret sauce is our crowdsourced model. We farm out tasks to between 30,000 and 40,000 people every month, who each get rewarded for helping train the company’s machine learning capabilities. If there is any challenge for us, it’s finding the right amount of humans to do the work. The artificial intelligence that we provide data for is generally AI that mimics a human function. So speech, sight or some sort of complex decision. Consequently, we use humans to build those data sets. We’re providing working opportunities to 30,000 to 40,000 people every month. And they get rewarded for it. We’re providing job opportunities for people who can’t get a job, or can only work at home. That’s a really positive side effect of our business, supporting these people.”
“Society was approaching a tipping point for the use of voice to become a regular interface with technology, and Appen was well positioned to benefit from this. We are fast approaching an inflection point for the mainstream use of voice as an interface with computing devices, and utility of products such as digital assistants will be dependent on quality training data from companies like Appen. It's estimated that by 2020 at least 50% of all searches will be through images or speech."
“Voice is becoming a more common way to interface with technology. We’ve gotten used to the idea with our phones: asking the built-in virtual assistant for directions, to search for things, to play music. Now more people are using voice recognition technology with at-home assistant devices (like Amazon Echo and Google Home) that can answer questions and help you with simple tasks, including basic online shopping. Because they’re all based on machine learning, the more we use these services, the better they get. The more they learn, and the better able they are to recognize the voices of the people who use them. They store information about what questions you’ve asked in the past, what you’ve bought. As they improve, they’ll become more useful and a bigger part of our daily lives.”
Tony Klim of Australia's Bravura Solutions (ASX: BVS)
“I have always admired my father more than anyone. He was born in Poland and endured significant suffering during World War 2, including losing his family and enduring a Siberian labour camp. He eventually managed to join the Royal Navy in the Middle East and went on to university in London, later becoming a leading scientist in his field and an inspirational father.”
“Australian wealth management regulations aimed at reducing conflicts of interest and increasing transparency for retail investors such as the government's Future of Financial Advice reforms have led the world. Bravura is well positioned to take advantage of this shift because investment companies will be forced to replace ageing systems with a more efficient technology, such as Sonata. What we are selling to the big wealth managers is new products and the consolidation of existing systems. You see lots of vertical legacy systems built on 1970s and '80s technology. Each has its own separate team and database. It's hugely inefficient and expensive to operate. We are seeing more and more moves to web-based services, and to the D2C market, and you need highly scalable, very efficient technology to do that.”
“Our software platform Sonata allows asset managers to roll out new products with ease while at the same time complying with tougher new regulations that have sought to create transparency for ordinary investors who buy the products. A number of clients say, 'what we like about Bravura is you do the boring stuff efficiently’. Our product is like the engine under the hood. Everyone looks at the leather seats and the stereo and so on, but unless you have a smooth-running engine that doesn't use a lot of fuel and so on, they aren't much use.”
“The current slew of re-platforming decisions marks a critical moment for the sector. The contracts we sign with clients typically last 10 to 15 years and are normally extended. So the decision to change core technology is taken perhaps once in a generation.”
Jamie Pherous of Australia's Corporate Travel Management (ASX: CTD)
“Innovation is the key to longevity. It’s important to be a disrupter, to be unconventional, to be always evolving, and to put user experience at front and centre of everything CTM does. We listen to clients and provide them with opportunities to deliver feedback. In this way, it is clients who drive development for CTM, not our competitors. Internally, CTM is focused on continuing to empower our own people to be innovative and make good decisions. We need to understand the difference between actual cultural value shifts (eg growing desire for craftsmanship, organic, artisan) as opposed to what may be short-term fads (bag tags, gaming rewards, etc). We apply this to our business and our reading of the industry.”
“I founded CTM in 1994 as I realised that many business travellers, like myself, were not happy with the way travel arrangements were made more complex and, at that stage, more expensive than what retail travel offered. I travelled a lot as a chartered accountant with Arthur Anderson – frequently orbiting Dubai, Chicago and cities in Asia – and experienced how poorly organised that travel was, with few options and little accountability. I knew the old way, where there were four corporate travel companies 'operating like call centres and just pushing cheap flights', couldn't fly forever. So at age 23, I left a great paying job at Arthur Anderson and took a huge punt - everyone thought I was young and dumb, but I just wouldn't listen. I was young and had no strategy … but did it anyway. I had no brand plan. We just did what the name said we did. I had a really strong belief it was a trillion-dollar market in the world. I started though with no brand, no buying power, no supplier relationships. It was tough to start with, proving to companies that we could save them money by organising their entire corporate travel program. We plugged away and tried not to get too disheartened by knockbacks and early setbacks. I even used to go the long way to work, just so I would not have to see the big Flight Centre billboard offering $1499 return airfares to Europe, their cheapest fare for the week which freaked me out so much. Thus, there was a huge gap in the corporate travel industry and it was missing three key ingredients. It lacked a good personalised service. It was basically a call centre trying to drive down costs, which is fine but doesn’t really help you when you need expertise to do tricky itineraries; second, there was no technology that really added any value; and lastly, everyone was selling on the biggest discount and not on a return on investment which, at the end of the day, is what the customer wants. So that’s how it started, and those three values still underpin everything we do today.”
“You need a simple business model. We run our business on five things, everything else is white noise. First is customers, then attracting and retaining and developing people. The glue that keeps that together is innovation and process. If you get those three things right, profit tends to fall out the bottom. I look at client wins, clients at risk pipelines, revenue as a function of productivity and innovation, and soft metrics of staff engagement and client satisfaction every morning. That's all I care about, there's simply nothing else I care about in the business - as a fast-growing company, you need to keep it that simple. At CTM, everyone knows the key drivers. Everyone will do something to meet them. Everyone reports on them. The litmus test is to ask staff, ‘What are the key drivers of our business and how are you contributing to them?’ That is how we improve constantly. If it doesn't fit our five criterion, I ask our people why they are doing it. CTM focused on ‘remuneration alignment’ – a large part of my bonus is tied to staff engagement and client retention outcomes – not just profit. Values are really important, client service values that we cherish – and we reward those via remuneration – some of which are teamwork and going the extra mile. CTM manages by exception. For instance, we spend the majority of our time focussing upon the key drivers and metrics that are not quite going to plan. We look at those exceptions and solve them, not the 80-odd percent of the time that things are going fine. The CTM approach was to look at reasons ‘not why we can’t do it, but what will it take to achieve something’. ‘Cancers’ identified in any growing business include ‘project creep’, communication rhythms, slow decision making, and understanding the fact that these are symptoms of a lack of accountability or people not tied to the key goals of the business.”
Randy Chien Chuan-sheng 簡川勝 of Taiwan's Innodisk (GTSM: 5289)
“Innodisk is one of the few memory module manufacturers in the world focused on non-consumer storage products such as industrial control, enterprise and aerospace defense applications. Although the certification period is long, we will not be easily replaced after entering the customer supply chain. Industrial control products typically require a five-year supply guarantee, the degree of customization is very high, and the customers stress technical services. Innodisk will continue to focus on the niche market, including high-performance server products, embedded industrial rugged products, customized special products, including servo-related products for robotic and automation. As far as industrial applications are concerned, the first five years are the hardest days for cultivation, but once we penetrate into the supply chain, the volume of orders will be steadily magnified and new customers will be added every year. Our number of customers reaches more than 2,000, and the customer base is very stable. Customer demand for industrial control memory applications is very complex. Innodisk focused on the R&D capabilities of the firmware since our inception, and tailored the most suitable combination of software, hardware, and firmware to meet customer needs. Innodisk has established a threshold that is not easily catchable by competitors.”
“In the industrial storage market, Innodisk earns money from doing what others do not wish to do, and also earns money from doing what others cannot do. We have the power to understand the requirements of specialized markets and help accelerated the launching of our customers’ products. The industrial control market emphasizes customer service and customization, and the market is difficult to enter. But what is even more different about Innodisk is that despite our wide reach, Innodisk must be an expert in every specialized market we target. We occupy the position of ‘experts for vertical market applications’. It is not a customer who requests us to do it. We can serve our customers in a more professional and proactive way, such as the latest in-car vehicle field. Innodisk’s in-vehicle team has an in-depth understanding of the industry, including special requirements for the in-vehicle products in industrial control storage devices, including stable temperature and shock resistance. Innodisk's products also help our military customers to prepare in advance the TS16969 certification."
“Innodisk focuses on the field of industrial control memory and is different from consumer memory. Even if the market conditions of consumer memory are good, Innodisk will not jump in. The most difficult part of operating a business is to persist in focus and not doing anything else. Instead of thinking about how big the entire market is, you have to look at yourself. How much better you can do. The total addressable market of industrial control products is big for Innodisk, so why do we want to do consumer flash memory products? Industrial control is also a resilient business with strong roots. When the economy is good, we can feel the afterglow, but it will only pour a bit of rain when it rains.“
Dr. Koh Kwangill 고광일 of Korea's Koh Young Technology (KOSDAQ: 098460)
“The inherent DNA of Koh Young's members can be called the unwavering spirit of challenge. Koh Young challenges the products that are not in the world. It is a strategy that we create the markets. To develop a product that is not in the market is going to a path that no one else has. We hate doing what others do. When we entered the robot industry, the US, Germany, and Japan have already been doing this business for 20 to 30 years. We make robots that go beyond the products of advanced countries and sell them to the world market. Fortunately, test equipment is software rather than hardware. Software and 3D machine vision architecture technology for accurately measuring, recognizing and processing vision data of arbitrarily shaped objects with various reflection characteristics at high speed in combination with robot technology and AI. This field is our industry's future. Koh Young's success in developing the 3D SPI for the first time in the world was like a miracle. We walked our whole life. The experience of product development success is embedded in the organization and is the force that keeps it going. In markets where there is a new product, we shook the market order to make first place, and if there is no market, we are willing to create a new market.”
“Robots are the ‘guns’ of the 4th industrial revolution era. Companies that cannot get on the Fourth Industrial Revolution will die. We invested in AI for three years, and we're already making a difference. It's a combination of robot and AI. Koh Young introduced a new equipment that reduces the defect rate by analyzing the type of defective product by connecting the production equipment of electronic products to the inspection machine network and analyze in real time whether or not the production process is abnormal. Customers were surprised. If you do not want to follow your customers for the rest of your life, you have to move your customers beyond expectations."
"Koh Young has developed a brain surgery robot based on 3D measurement technology. Koh Young has developed a navigation sensor for brain surgery that displays the environment in the brain with 3D vision technology and developed a medical robot for brain surgery. As a brain surgery robot, it succeeded in miniaturizing the equipment by attaching it to the operating table for the first time in the world. Currently, micro-area surgery in the field of otolaryngology and neurosurgery diagnoses lesions based on pre-operative medical image information. It is impossible to completely avoid excessive incision or radiation exposure. The solution to these problems is our surgical guide robot system using a miniaturized multi-degree-of-freedom robot, medical image-based navigation software and high-precision 3D medical sensors. The combination of 3D sensor technology and robotic system on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) images of the patient's brain region. Our robot system is expected to minimize the damage to the human body through the shortest path surgery and ensure the safety of the operator and the patient at the same time, so that the accuracy of the procedure and the success rate of the operation can be significantly improved. We will continue to create new value in the medical field by combining medical diagnostic equipment and 3D technology. We have always been thinking of making the best products if it is not the first product in the world. We will make a company that can stand the number one position in various fields beyond the testing equipment market.“
“My management philosophy is to not recognize people as cost; that the employee is a dream partner with the CEO; that a human company, a brilliant company succeeds and that sometimes you need a reckless challenge. The secret to overcoming recession is that there is no recession in 1st place product and Koh Young makes product and offers solutions that are the only one and best in the world.”
"It is love in the end. Not only does it require loyalty as a member, but the company must also love people. That's how we pair. Those who devoted their lives to Koh Young, I am going to pay attention to how these people are responsible for their lives.“
Yoshio Hosokawa 細川悦男 of Japan's Hosokawa Micron (TSE: 6277)
“Beginning with the development in the 1930s of the Micron Mill that greatly contributed to the industry of Japan, we have supplied worldwide industry with a wide range of cutting-edge products in the field of powder processing for milling, classification, mixing, drying, agglomeration, collection, dust prevention, feeding, discharge, conveying and analysis. We have concentrated our efforts to take our powder processing products (mountain peaks) and the engineering to combine the products based on the vast amount of technical data and years of experience (the broad peripheral technology forming the foot of the mountain peaks) to form a magnificent ‘mountain range’ of powder technologies. We are now emphasizing efforts in the development of nano-technology including ‘particle design technologies’ which leads to ‘development of new materials’ which may result in a revolution in technology.”
"Lithium ion batteries are rechargeable batteries used for electric cars and mobile phones and composed of four members: a positive electrode material, a negative electrode material, a separator, and an electrolytic solution, and are charged and discharged by moving lithium ions between the positive electrode and the negative electrode. it is lightweight and has high-voltage, large-capacity characteristics, and is mounted on hybrid vehicles and EVs. An annoying problem in the powder world is contamination, or impurities mixed in the product. This is caused by the wear and tear of the equipment. For example, if lithium batteries are mixed with metal, they will short-circuit. There is a danger of catching fire if there is contamination in this raw material. The trouble is that there is a high possibility that contamination will come out with a metal crusher. Recent lithium battery and its magnetic materials are very hard, so if you try to make it finer, the metal of the crusher will be scraped. For this reason, in recent years, particularly for processing high value-added raw materials, there is an increasing demand for a pulverizer using ceramics parts in contact with the powder. However, ceramics are expensive and fragile materials. In Hosokawa Micron, we command a high reputation for high technical strength and product competitiveness and we devote ourselves to the development of machines that do not produce contamination at low cost by devising the structure and shape of machines and parts. Our advanced nano-level grinding technology is the true value of the company, pulverizing and commercializing magnetic materials such as neodymium, iron, boron used in lithium batteries. The lithium ion batteries will achieve miniaturization with the surface modification; increased magnet strength and performance improvement which brings about motor miniaturization; and improved performance and safety of secondary batteries for in-vehicle use for increase in cruise distance. We are expanding sales of new products such as fine grinding with built-in impact type classifier specialized for positive electrode materials of secondary batteries.”
“Humans are essentially seeking security, but our real society is constantly changing. The ability to face and overcome difficult circumstances is important. The feelings of challenging somewhat difficult things and curiosity are necessary to create a challenging spirit. The key is to keep aware of these five principles: (1) have a sense of responsibility, (2) have consciousness of participation, (3) to not stop thinking, (4) to have correct judgment criteria, (5) to have a strong intention of the planned completion. Only when the vectors for achievement of everyone's goals are in agreement will a great force be born."
Nobuaki Komori 小森伸昭 of Japan's Anicom Holdings (TSE: 8715)
“Our company name Anicom is “Ani (life) + Communication (mutual understanding) = infinity" as the root of our corporate activities. This comes from the belief that what seems impossible can become possible when living souls cooperate with one another and work toward the shared purpose. 18 years ago in 2000, I left the major insurance company Tokio Marine, and I started Anicom. The reason is simple, because I wanted to do an unprecedented insurance company. I wanted to create a preventive insurance company. If you know the timing and probability that someone will become sick in advance, you as an insurance company can tell insurance members in advance. Do you not think that person is kind?"
“Although the role of insurance company was only insurance payment, the original role is to reduce social risk. For example, taking car insurance as an example, if I know which car intersection happens frequently for accidents, I can change the intersection and prevent the accident from the root. Since we have built our own ecosystem, enormous data from cooperating animal hospitals are fed back. From accumulated data, you can prevent illness. We set up medical examination and health guidance. We are promoting product development aiming at being able to share a longer time with both pets and human beings to be healthy.”
“When taking a pet to a hospital, you have anxiety that you do not know how much money you need. Anicom's pet insurance is like human health insurance. We have tied up with 6,200 hospitals nationwide to reduce the financial burden of the owner for treatment, and to help the veterinarian provide the best medical care. Our OTC settlement system, which facilitates a smooth link between policyholders, animal hospitals and Anicom, is available across nearly the entire country. The high barriers to entry in this segment of the market give us a substantial competitive advantage. We were the first company to establish an over-the-counter (OTC) settlement system for animals in Japan, allowing policyholders to pay only uncovered amounts out of pocket simply by presenting their insurance card at the hospital (similar to the National Health Insurance system). “In the traditional pet insurance model, the policyholder paid the full medical fee at the hospital and later asked the insurance company for a refund by mailing a claim form to the insurance company. Every claim incurs administrative costs such as bank transfer charges, postage, and assessment costs. Our business model has reduced this cost to about 10%. Although around 85% of claims are made over the counter, we have also started a claim service using LINE, which combines convenience with business efficiency. This business model is centered on increasing the ease of use of insurance. This is important as medical treatment for animals is characterized by low cost but high frequency. ‘Ease of use’, therefore is Anicom Insurance's greatest strength. We have always worked to expand the network of hospitals accepting Anicom insurance with the development of an insurance claim system linked with hospital electronic medical record. Consequently our network has grown to 6,200 hospitals (more than 50% of all animal hospitals in Japan), far exceeding our competitors and giving us competitive advantage. Partnerships with animal hospitals is essential for the pet insurance business model and effectively serves as an entry barrier. In addition, we started a service that is also pleasing for pet shops. Animals were ‘100% compensated’ for the first month because the animals tend to get sick if the environment changes. As a result of this, complaints from customers decreased, and shops were able to sell pets with confidence. Creating convenient systems for owners, hospitals, pet shops was a factor in the success of Anicom.”
“Anicom receives monthly premiums from insurance members. I am paying salaries for employees, and I also invest in new businesses. When thinking about what money is, I feel that it is an additive of ‘thank you’ energy. There are interesting social experiments carried out in which children from any country are asked to ‘draw money’. They usually draw a circle or a square. And write a number in the center. Apparently, the average image of money is figures. Next, when you urge them ‘Please exchange this money for something that someone has’, everyone adds the word ‘thank you’ after the exchange. There is no one who will exchange money by saying ‘you are foolish’. In this way, I feel that money is an additive of ‘Thank you’. The amount of 10,000 yen, 100,000 yen, 1 million yen is the result of countless ‘Thank you’ accumulated. The money in your wallet may be a positive energy entrusted by someone. As you usually do when you exchange money, if you take a perspective like this, your consciousness may change. Anicom's premium income exceeded 31.3 billion yen. This money is also the addition of ‘Thank you’ received from our subscribers. You cannot waste this energy. What value can you offer to the society that raised you?”
Atsuhiko Yamazaki 山崎敦彦 of Japan's Yamashin-Filter (TSE: 6240)
“Yamashin Filter’s management philosophy is 仕濾過事, which means ‘contribute to society through filter business’. Our company has continued this philosophy for 60 years and has contributed to society by delivering high quality filters. Filters are the unsung heroes of industry, working quietly behind the scenes, unnoticed by most people. Yamashin plays a vital role in our everyday lives. Our filters are installed in most of the world’s hydraulic excavators in use today and can be found in surprising places, such as on production lines in the alcoholic beverage sector. Customers across many industries have chosen our products because they recognize Yamashin’s superior development capabilities. Yamashin filter's challenge has only just begun. We are positioning the present as the second foundation. We will continue to develop innovative technologies, aiming to offer solutions for different industries to expand its reach into even more fields. We aim to be a company that constantly develops and continues to challenge.”
“In management reform, we aim to make a leap from a specialized manufacturer of construction machine filter to an integrated filter maker. Specifically, it focuses on establishing the company's product structure with the three pillars of ‘filter for construction machine’, ‘industrial process filter’ and ‘new material’, and a review of supply chain. We are focusing on developing new products. Currently, about 90% of Yamashin filter sales are filter business for construction machinery. We are developing and establishing mass-production technology of the new fiber material of synthetic polymer nanofibers which are expected to be used in various fields such as medical, regenerative medical, agricultural, aerospace, apparel, other than hydraulic applications. Applications of the new nanofibers will also benefit liquids other than oil as well as gas, so our future business area will expand significantly. If we separate the conventional stereotype of filter for filtration, we think that there are also new ways to use filters. It will be expanded to insulation materials, sound insulation materials and water filters. The late American President Kennedy said, ‘The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.’ We are fortunate that we should do the work for this future when we are stable and growing as the global number one leader in this niche field. We will make sure to prepare for the next stage when we are in good shape.”
“We are focusing on ‘IoT conversion’ of hydraulic filter. The filter is a consumable item and needs to be exchanged after a certain period of time. In the past, when the passage resistance of the filter became high to some extent, it was informed with an indicator. However, by developing a sensor called ‘Swift Lock’, we are now able to grasp in real time, such as 20% or 50% of consumption. By aggregating this together with GPS data, users can visualize exhaustion status of filters of construction machines operating around the world. The sensor checks the oil condition of the construction machine and judges whether it is normal or not. It is possible to prevent an emergency such as a sudden failure of the construction machine. It is also a great advantage for a construction and civil engineering company that is a user of a construction machine. If the hydraulic filter is the ‘kidney’ of the construction machine, the oil is just like ‘blood’. The same mechanism that humans check health condition at the hospital is also made for construction machinery. We are also experimenting the sensor in various environments such as desert.”
“The biggest difference of Yamashin with other companies is that we are a R&D type of organization in designing products with VOC (voice of customers) in mind. If there is an order from the customer, we will do from the development of the filter material which is the essential part of the filter. Demand varies depending on the manufacturer. Normally, the finer the filter, just like when scooping water with a mesh or sieve, the greater the resistance to fluid flow. In addition, if the ‘garbage’ is blocked, the passing resistance becomes even bigger. However, filtration technology aims at resolving the contradictory properties of refining the fineness of the mesh while taking a lot of trash and having the ability to work in high pressure applications. For example, we are asked to develop filters with detailed specifications such as ‘how much garbage can be taken’, or ‘how quickly oil stains can pass through’, or ‘how not to miss the smaller oil stain particles’ or the filter durability or useful life in ‘how long can it last’. For the development of a small construction machine, the need could be to quadruple the operation time, yet halving the size of the filter. Yamashin takes into account flow rate, operating temperature, environment and total cost of ownership (TCO) when developing filter technology. This coupled with over 60 years of experience allows us to supply customized filters for each specific customer applications. Our greatest strength is that we can procure, design and develop the filter material according to these customer needs internally and we are pleased to accept such requests. In order to make filters useful for the construction machines or for the next generation aircraft, we are trying to make products that customers desire most. This quality and superior development capability is still the most important factor when customers purchase our filters. We keep in mind the fine-grained service. In order to respond to customer's request, sales staff need knowledge equivalent to that of a ‘sales engineer’. Companies in Japan and overseas bother to purposely choose the filters of Yamashin when there are others that are more affordable and less expensive. This was because we conveyed quality, as well as various prompt delivery and after-sales services using IoT, and our attitude towards making things.”
Koichi Nishikawa 西川光一 of Japan's Park24 (TSE: 4666)
“With cars becoming indispensable in everyday life, the role of the parking facility is changing rapidly from a mere place where vehicles are parked to a center of urban activity. The Park24 Group aims to help achieve a comfortable automobile society by developing and offering mobility services, including parking, car sharing, and car rentals, and expanding our membership network. We aim to create new mobility services by utilizing the network, know-how and various data that our group has built up and accumulated. The Park 24 group will make every effort to remember the challenge that is the DNA from our foundation and continue to take the customer's voice firmly, in order to become a transportation infrastructure service company to contribute to the development of the mobility society of the future and to meet the needs of the times. We aim to make Park24 indispensable to the automobile society, and to all of our stakeholders, by expanding our operations in Japan and developing overseas businesses to drive our future growth, and by creating new forms of mobility.”
“Our greatest strength is our ability to create networks using our TONIC (Times Online Network and Information Center) IT infrastructure. While expanding the scale of our existing management resources, such as members, vehicles and parking facilities, we will continue to deploy our Times Pay settlement system and capture driver destination information within communities as part of our customer sharing and business support activities for stores near Times parking facilities. We want Park24 to be a driving force in the new mobility society. We will work to achieve this vision by networking these management resources and using the big data that they generate to offer services that anticipate changes in the automobile society, including the provision of temporary parking for self-driving vehicles, new mobility services based on self-driving vehicles, and charging facilities for electric vehicles. Park24 is dedicated to the realization of its corporate philosophy of creating a comfortable automobile society.”
“Car sharing is a new and convenient way of transportation and plays a key role in urban transportation. For a monthly fee of 1,030 yen, or about $8, members who sign up online or with a smartphone receive a member card that functions as a car key. Vehicles are booked online or using Park24’s smartphone app. Subscribers are charged in 15-minute increments of 206 yen. There is no need to refill the gas tank before returning the car. About 55% of the members are in their 20s to 30s. One quarter is female and three thirds are male. One-third is a corporation and two-thirds are individuals. The average usage time is around 3 hours. There are many young people who do not have cars. Young people now are not so concerned about possession. There is little sense of resistance to sharing. The house is also shared. Rather than forcibly live in a narrow place in a one room, it is better to live comfortably in a house with about 5 people. I think that the car society is changing in declining desire for car ownership with new car sales on a gradual decline for the past decade, but there is a consciousness to ride. It is often said that car sharing deprives the demand for cars and competes with automobile manufacturers. However, based on analyzing the data we have, including user data on Times Car PLUS and the parking lots in and out of the country, it is clear that car sharing created new demand from people who would not have gotten on the car. More companies have been using the cars to do business near their offices of late, boosting our car sharing utilization rates in the previously slow weekday midday stretch. Our strength is not on the street, but outside the road where we provide convenient Times parking lot. Car sharing is an optimal business model for parking lot operators and I think that players in other sectors including car manufacturers will find it difficult to enter. Times Car Plus vehicles can be found near almost every train station in central Tokyo and 60% of the shinkansen bullet train stations outside the capital. We have around 49,000 vehicles in the mobility business of car sharing and car rental pools and a network of around 18,000 parking facilities across Japan to hold vehicles available for car sharing. We aim for 100,000 vehicles and to expand the domestic parking lots to 1 million units.”
“An IT system is essential in order to stably move parking lots of this size on a daily basis, providing the location of the Times parking lot and empty lots information instantaneously, reducing the driver’s difficulty of finding a parking lot. You can also use credit cards and electronic money settlement. Times Club members can also collect and save loyalty program points on their Times Club Card. Without this system, it would not have been possible to expand at the current pace. Even if the parking lots in Japan doubled to 1 million now, the system itself can tolerate, and because of this system, innovative new services such as Times Car PLUS car sharing and B-Times parking reservation could be introduced and we can discover new possibilities, develop new businesses. By using this system, all parking lots, car sharing cars, car rental are connected online.”
“I tried to introduce this TONIC IT system at around 2000 when I presented at the board meeting that ‘we cannot survive unless IT systems are introduced in the future.’ At that time, Times parking lot had been rapidly increased, but it was in fact impossible to manage even what was broken. Since I could not get any data before the introduction of TONIC, I did not know whether the parking lot was working properly and how much profit it generated unless I went to the site. I envisioned the fear that management cannot be done when expanding in such a state. It was imperative to introduce the IT system quickly. When I started taking data from a certain time, I found that the loss due to cars not being charged accounted for 15% of the total. As the sales at that time were about 20 billion yen, there was a loss of 3 billion yen. If there is such a loss, if you make capital investment and reduce the loss, profits will be improved. However, the annual profit at the time was 2.5 billion yen. As we proposed an IT system investment of 4 billion yen, it was dismissed twice by the board of directors. But I did not give up. I tenaciously persuaded the founding generation who gave the go ahead the third time, saying ‘Do as much as possible’. Well, I had a hard time, there was no company to cooperate in making the system. We did it on our own and I checked the machines in the parking lot one by one, analyze the circuit, rush around with the staff.”
“With the introduction of TONIC in 2003, we connected all of the Times parking spots scattered all over Japan online so that we can grasp the operating situation at a glance and enhance customer service. Information on whether the parking lot is full, empty, crowded, etc. are delivered to web pages and mobile phone terminals, car navigation companies, map companies, content companies in real time. We are able to promptly share information by completing services such as parking lot cleaning, collecting money, maintenance of parking lot equipment and call center all within the group so that we can provide timely and speedy service. It is a big difference. By constructing a management system that utilized IT in this way to discover and recover equipment failures and malfunctions at an early stage and solve information distribution to increase occupancy rate, the gross profit margin improved significantly. The system we created has contributed to revenue bigger than expected. As all data was managed all at once, the range of business expanded widely.”
How to Know If We are Right for Each Other?
You are an intelligent high net-worth investor, business owner, family office, institutional investor, allocator, or financial advisor who want to:
- You want to learn and be well-informed about disruptive forces and innovation, new technologies and new business models coming up, and the companies that ride on and benefit from them in some of the most promising areas of the economy, and feel more confident in your knowledge in how these innovators are indispensable in the well-being of your daily life.
- Yet, you do not wish to follow the crowd like everyone else to herd in the popular mega-cap tech stocks.
- And you definitely do not want to fall for the Next-Big-Thing trap by investing in fads, me-too imitators, cash-burning tech companies, or even in seemingly cutting-edge technologies without the ability to monetize and generate recurring revenue with a sustainable and scalable business model, and you want to know how to distinguish between the true innovators and the swarming imitators.
- You want to be proud of the entrepreneurs and owner-operators running the companies, that they are honorable, high-integrity, far-sighted, and have a higher sense of purpose in solving High-Value Problems for their target customers and society, and have unique, scalable and wide-moat business models with sustainable competitive advantages and innovative products, services, and processes to grow profitably through up/downturns in the economy, as opposed to imagining a certain tech category and then finding someone in that category.
KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to H.E.R.O., KB was the Portfolio Manager/Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investment.
KB was also the Managing Editor of the Moat Report Asia, a research service focused exclusively on highlighting undervalued wide-moat businesses in Asia. Subscribers to the Moat Report Asia from North America, Europe, the Oceania and Asia include professional value investors with over $20 billion in asset under management in equities, some of the world’s biggest secretive global hedge fund giants, hidden billionaires and savvy private individual investors who are lifelong learners in the art of value investing.
KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Detecting Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at the SMU. KB remains grateful to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community.
Selected media archives:
- Scouring Accounting Footnotes to Prevent Tunneling Fraud, Business Times, 19 Aug 2015 (PDF)
- Reforming Corporate Governance, Business Times, 25 Nov 2000 (PDF)
- The Secret to Business Resilience: Be Like the Bamboo, Not the Oak, TODAY, 8 April 2013 (PDF)
- Creating Bamboo Innovators in Singapore, Straits Times, 1 April 2013 (PDF)
- 管理狮城的狮子企业家 The Power of Vision, Business Times, 15 May 2000 & Lianhe Zaobao, 9 Aug 2010 (PDF)
- Why ‘Democracy’ and ‘Drifter’ Firms Can Have Abnormal Returns: The Joint Importance of Corporate Governance and Accounting Quality in Separating Winners from Losers, Review of Social, Economic and Administrative Studies, Vol. 25 no. 1 (2011): 3-55. (PDF)